It’s crunch time, folks. Now four matches into the UEFA Champions League Group Stage, the groups have truly begun to take shape. With only two matches remaining, we finally find ourselves truly separating the men from the boys. While the favourites in the competition have managed to put themselves in a great position to qualify at this stage, we can still not rule out a few shocks over the final few matches. Here is your Champions League Round-Up.
UEFA Champions League Round-Up: Matchday Four
AS Monaco 0-4 Club Brugge
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Borussia Dortmund
Standings: 1. Dortmund 9pts, 2. Atletico 9pts, 3. Club Brugge 4pts, 4. Monaco 1pts
Having lost out to Borussia Dortmund on the last matchday of the competition, Atletico Madrid saw a reversal of fortunes in the marquee match from this group on Tuesday.
Delivering the first loss to Dortmund in this competition so far, Atletico cruised to a 2-0 victory over Dortmund, tying the clubs at the top of Group A with both now holding nine points each.
At the opposite end of the group, fans were in for quite a shock as Club Brugge cruised to a 4-0 win at Monaco, putting them in sole possession of third place in Group A and also setting themselves up for a potential run in the Europa League. The result also continues the dire run of form for Monaco as the French Giants have now been eliminated from potentially qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase.
Inter Milan 1-1 Barcelona
Tottenham 2-1 PSV
Standings: 1. Barcelona 10pts, 2. Inter 7pts, 3. Tottenham 4pts, 4. PSV 1pts
Eeking out a rather deserved 1-1 draw against giants Barcelona on Tuesday night, Inter Milan continued their solid run in this year’s Champions League competition. Still three points clear of Tottenham in the table and possessing a slight lead in goal differential, Inter clearly are set up to control their own destiny over the final two matches.
While the Italian side must still make a trip to Wembley Stadium to face Spurs, Inter will get to face the already eliminated PSV at home while Spurs will be forced to travel to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona.
Speaking of Tottenham, though, Spurs just managed to stay alive in the competition after coming from behind to defeat PSV at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night. Still possessing a chance to qualify for the Champions League knockout round, the form currently being shown by Spurs will make this an extremely difficult task.
Napoli 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Red Star Belgrade 2-0 Liverpool
Standings: 1. Napoli 6pts, 2. Liverpool 6pts, 3. PSG 5pts, 4. Red Star 4pts
What a night it was in Belgrade. Taking advantage of a raucous home atmosphere, Red Star Belgrade earned a 2-0 victory over the mighty Liverpool. This result, while huge by itself for Red Star, has now thrown the entirety of Group C into chaos with just two matches remaining.
The most notable result from this Red Star victory is the fact that current group leaders Napoli only sit two points ahead of last place Red Star. Moreso, the result of the match puts Liverpool in an extremely precarious position with the Reds still to face both Napoli and PSG in the final two matches of the group stage.
However, things could potentially be worse for Liverpool. With Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain drawing 1-1 on Tuesday night, Liverpool remain situated in the second place position, tied on points with first place Napoli. That said, this group remains firmly up in the air and it is anyone’s guess at which two sides from this group will progress into the Champions League knockout phase.
Schalke 2-0 Galatasaray
Porto 4-1 Lokomotiv Moscow
Standings: 1. Porto 10pts, 2. Schalke 8pts, 3. Galatasaray 4pts, 4. Lokomotiv 0pts
Earning victory in their respective matches, both Porto and Schalke have guaranteed themselves a continued European campaign going forward with both clubs guaranteed to finish no lower than third place in Group D.
Even better for Porto is the fact that their 4-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow basically clinched their spot in the Champions League knockout round. Now leading third-place Galatasaray by six points with only two matches to go, Porto must only earn one more point to clinch their spot in the following rounds.
On the other hand, Galatasaray cannot afford to drop any more points in the final two matches. Losing 2-0 to German side FC Schalke, the Turkish Giants now sit four points out of a qualifying position and look almost destined to head to the Europa League as the third-place finisher from Group C.
Benfica 1-1 Ajax
Bayern Munich 2-0 AEK Athens
Standings: 1. Bayern 10pts, 2. Ajax 8pts, 3. Benfica 4pts, 4. AEK 0pts
Finally making their way to the top of Group E after four matchdays, Bayern Munich remain to be overshadowed by the Dutch club that could. While the German giants got the job done and earned a 2-0 win against visiting AEK Athens, the news from Group E remains to be Ajax, who earned a 1-1 draw on the road against Benfica.
The result gives Ajax eight points from four matches and allows them to remain four points clear of Benfica with two matches to go. Barring a major collapse in their next match at AEK Athens, Ajax look set to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds following the next matchday.
Manchester City 4-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Olympique Lyon 2-2 Hoffenheim
Standings: 1. Man City 9 pts, 2. Lyon 6pts, 3. Hoffenheim 3 pts, 4. Shakhtar Donetsk 2pts
Basically clinching their spot in the Champions League knockout rounds, Manchester City did what they needed to do as the cruised to a 6-0 victory over the visiting Shakhtar Donetsk. Coupled with a 2-2 draw between Olympique Lyon and Hoffenheim, City now sit six points clear of third at the top of Group F. While Hoffenheim are still mathematically alive when it comes to catching and passing City, such a result is highly unlikely.
However, an easier task for Hoffenheim could now be catching Olympique Lyon over the next two matches. Down by only three points to the French side, Hoffenheim kept their Champions League hopes alive as they clawed back from 2-0 down at half-time to tie Lyon 2-2 despite being down to ten men for most of the match.
CSKA Moscow 1-2 AS Roma
Viktoria Plzen 0-5 Real Madrid
Standings: 1. Real Madrid 9pts, 2. Roma 9pts, 3. CSKA 4pts, 4. Viktoria Plzen 1pt
Another matchday, another victory for both Roma and Real Madrid. While the two giants of Group G have not officially punched their tickets to the Champions League knockout rounds, both clubs now sit in a commanding position with just two matches to go. While Roma’s 2-1 victory against CSKA Moscow was a close one for the most part, the same could not be said for Real Madrid’s 5-0 thrashing of Viktoria Plzen.
While the two giants of this group will face off against each other on the next matchday with Real heading to Italy to take on Roma, the two sides are clearly set to progress. With Real hosting CSKA and Roma visiting Viktoria Plzen on the final matchday of the group stage, there is little doubt that both will advance to the knockout phase when the group stage is complete.
Valencia 3-1 Young Boys
Juventus 1-2 Manchester United
Standings: 1. Juventus 9pts, 2. Man United 7pts, 3. Valencia 5pts, 4. Young Boys 1pt
Clawing two goals back in the final ten minutes of the match, Manchester United seemingly finally found their old strut. Coming from a goal down to win 2-1 at Juventus on Wednesday night, the Red Devils not only kept themselves in second place in Group H, but showed the type of fightback that has been missing from this club all season. Is this the start of something new? Only time will tell.
In one of the days earlier matches, Valencia cruised to a 3-1 home victory over Young Boys. The result keeps Valencia within striking distance of Manchester United over the final two matches and also all but confirms their spot in at least the Europa League should they fail to catch United for the final Champions League spot in Group H.